What is the role of steroids in the treatment of peritonsillar abscess?

Updated: May 09, 2018
  • Author: Jeffrey D Suh, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Prior to 2003, no studies on the use of steroids in peritonsillar abscess (PTA) were published. In a study for severe, acute pharyngitis, adjuvant steroids demonstrated benefit. The authors randomized 58 patients to receive either 1 dose of intramuscular dexamethasone (10 mg) or placebo. Subjects receiving steroids reported faster improvement in throat pain than control subjects. [20]

In 2004, a group in Turkey examined the use of a single high-dose steroid. Sixty-two patients treated with needle aspiration were assigned to receive either intravenous antibiotic treatment plus placebo OR intravenous antibiotic treatment plus a dose of steroid. Clinical outcomes revealed a statistically significant difference between the groups when evaluating throat pain, fever, trismus, and hours hospitalized. [13]

A 2014 study found that 10 mg IV dexamethasone combined with drainage and IV antibiotics resulted in less pain at 24 hours when compared to placebo. However, the effect is short-lived; differences disappeared by 48 hours and 7 days. [21]

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